January 14, 2015

Police Chief Kimberley Jacobs
Columbus Police Division
120 Marconi Blvd.
Columbus, OH 43215
Dear Chief Jacobs,
After the Ohio State University victory in the championship game early
Tuesday, John Kuntz, a photographer for the Northeast Ohio Media
Group, was photographing students celebrating on the streets of your
city when police in riot gear arrived to disperse the crowd.
The police quickly resorted to tear gas, which caused a group of the
students to gag and vomit, and then followed up with blasts of pepper
spray in the faces of individual students who remained, causing those
students to suffer terribly. As far as I know, no one in the crowd suffered
any harm in the celebration until your officers arrived and began to
inflict it.
John photographed the action, and was caught in some of the tear gas,
causing him to gag. As he continued to follow the action, he noticed a
young woman who had fallen on a curb, near a tear gas canister. As
John approached to help her to safety, one of your officers stepped
around from behind and blasted John full in the face with pepper spray.
This is an unacceptable attack on an innocent journalist and the First
Amendment. John clearly was not a student celebrating the victory. He is
much older than the students on the street, was shooting photographs
with a professional-level camera and carrying a bag and several
pouches containing his photographic equipment. He posed no threat to
the officer and obviously was performing his duties as a journalist,
documenting the behavior of your officers and the students.
Apparently, John was not the sole member of the media your officers
attacked. Video posted by the Columbus Dispatch shows an officer
spraying directly into the lens of a Dispatch videographer’s camera, as
well as spraying dozens of people who appear to be doing nothing more
than standing on sidewalks.
Your officer’s action blinded John for two hours, causing him excruciating
pain and possibly other medical complications, and blocked him from

continuing his photographic mission. I believe the officer’s action might
constitute a crime, and I am reviewing with our attorneys the potential
option of seeking a criminal investigation. We and John also are
assessing whether we might have a legitimate civil claim against the
city over this officer’s sadistic behavior.
I hope you are as outraged by your officer’s conduct as I am, as I cannot
fathom that someone in your position would condone such treatment of
a peaceable journalist engaged in his duties. As you may know, we have
reported on this incident and intend to follow up on this matter. At the
very least, I believe your department and the particular officer who
attacked John owe him and the Northeast Ohio Media Group an
immediate explanation for your officer’s behavior and an apology.
Sincerely,
Chris Quinn
cc: Mayor Michael B. Coleman